• Recession hit airlines could face bankruptcy as EU regulations force them to foot the bill for the grounding of flights ordered by Eurocontrol, UKIP Transport spokesman Mike Nattrass MEP said today.
Mr Nattrass said that the EU’s “Denied Boarding” regulations meant that hotel, meal and telephone expenses for passengers whose flights were cancelled had to be met by the airlines, even if the cancellation was beyond their control.
Mr Nattrass continued, “Many airlines were already struggling in the face of the recession, and this could be the final nail in the coffin for many.
“It was Eurocontrol, an EU agency, which ordered the grounding of flights, and yet it is the airlines who must pay a bill which could exceed £100m on top of the lost revenue caused by the cancellations.
“The ‘denied boarding’ regulations were meant to deter airlines from overbooking flights, not to force them to pay for the over-reaction of Eurocontrol. The absurd wording means we now face the unpalatable choice of either seeing summer holiday plans being hit by a wave of airline bankruptcies, or using taxpayers money to pay these huge compensations claims.”
European airspace was closed by Eurocontrol as a result of a single computer simulation from the UK Met Office's 'Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre'.
The “Denied boarding” regulations (261/2004/EC) were passed with no industry consultation, as admitted by Tony McNulty MP when the UK government carried out its own consultation process: a process which Mr McNulty admitted was limited to the enforcement process and could not alter the regulation itself, as it had already been passed and the UK government was powerless.
Cost projections based on 150,000 stranded passengers at £100/night over 8 nights = £15m/night